One of the mistakes that many people make is to think that the really urgent things, like putting out ‘fires’, answering emails, going to the post office and anything else that screams NOW, are the priorities. And with good reason! We are conditioned to react. We are socialized to be polite. We truly believe that if something is stamped URGENT that it is… but at what price?
I’m not saying some of these things aren’t important, but the truly important things quietly wait for you to get to them. Reaching out to say hi to someone you haven’t talked to in a while, going to your child’s after school activity, taking time to decompress and restore yourself… those are the things that will matter in 10 years, not the run-around crisis-type stuff that keeps you busy all day.
There’s a balance between what needs to get done TODAY and what should be done to make a better TOMORROW for you and your family. Every URGENCY takes time away from what’s really important in the bigger picture. So how do you know what to focus on?
Following are strategies that a few very successful people use to make sure they’re doing what’s important every day. (If you don’t know who these people are, do a little research because we don’t have time to tell how amazing they are in their fields.)
- Richard Branson: At the end of each day, Richard Branson lists his top 3 priorities for the next day. And the next day, he works until he accomplishes those three things. Nothing else gets his attention until those three priorities are complete.
- Tim Ferriss: Take the first hour of the day and make it your Golden First Hour, where you focus only on important priorities. Avoid exposure to things you’ll need to react to, like emails, texts, Slack messages, etc. Identify at least one milestone of an important priority that you will reach and accomplishing during this hour. You may want to tackle your hardest priority first to create project momentum.
- Ariana Huffington: Take 20 minute ‘pauses’ in your day to refresh your energy. Then focus on what you want to achieve with clarity.
- Warren Buffett: List your top 25 priorities, then circle your top 5 priorities. Where other experts would say schedule in the others as you can, Warren Buffett says the other 20 become your ‘Avoid At All Costs’ list, because they will divert your attention away from your true priorities.
We all have the same 24 hours in a day, yet the people above have accomplished big things in their time. And if they can make the time to address what’s really important, instead of only reacting to urgencies, so can you.
Here are a few more tips that I think are pretty good…
- Take time to think about your life. Even if it’s 5 minutes in the shower, reflect on what’s good in your life and give thanks.
- Give yourself a bedtime. As an adult, going to bed early is the same thing as sleeping in. So often we stay up to watch that last show or do that last thing when, really, it’s costing us valuable energy that we could have for the next day. So just go to bed already.
- Take 20 minutes on Fridays to plan your next week’s priorities. Try to front-load the week. Know where you’re going to invest your time on what’s really important and create some breathing room daily.
- Put a time limit on urgencies, errands and chores. These are the time-suck things that can keep you on the move while the really important things wait for you to have the time that you’ll never have if you keep doing everything else.
These might sound basic but even one of them can change everything for you.
The most important thing for you to get out of all this is to not confuse urgency with importance. Know what’s important to you and your family and make that your urgency.
Carl White, Chief Officer of Coolness
Article Originally Published on LinkedIn
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